President's Fall 2018 Update

Written by Stephen V. Sundborg, S.J.
November 15, 2018

Dear Seattle University Community,

California continues to battle deadly and destructive wildfires as I write this first quarterly update of the 2018-2019 academic year. Thank you for keeping our students, community members and their families from the impacted areas in your thoughts and prayers. Our CARE Team is supporting affected students and making sure they are aware of available resources.

Here on campus, this academic year is shaping up to be a momentous one for the university’s future. We have much to be grateful for and look forward to.

This fall we welcomed the largest-ever incoming class of undergraduate students. A new student residence, Vi Hilbert Hall, opened on the north end of campus, providing space for 300 students—and some magnificent views of our environs! Our academic programs and commitment to sustainability continue to be highly ranked. We have had a number of distinguished speakers visit and contribute to the university’s intellectual discourse. Our student-athletes are competing at high levels, with women’s soccer winning the WAC and a berth in the NCAA tournament, their fourth in the past seven years. And both men’s and women’s basketball are off to exciting starts.

We are in the midst of significant change and transformation at Seattle University. The work we do over the next several months will be instrumental in defining who we are, who we are becoming and how we are impacting the city, region and world.

This is a year for building, a year for bringing our aspirations to life. In a few short months we will break ground for the new Center for Science and Innovation. In this space at the center of campus, STEM education at SU will thrive as never before, tomorrow’s leaders will be formed and solutions to pressing challenges of the day will be made real. But there’s even more to the building than that. As the new home for the Center for Community Engagement, the student-run radio station KXSU, a maker space and a café, the building will be a new gathering place exerting a magnetic pull on our campus community. I am grateful for the support we have received in recent months for the project, including commitments from Microsoft, Amazon and the Murdock Trust. It is the centerpiece of our multiyear comprehensive campaign, kicking off publicly a year from now and having already surpassed more than $200 million to support virtually all facets of our university. Thank you!

This is a year for creating a new strategic framework for Seattle University’s future, for imagining what sort of institution we want to be in the years ahead. A campus-wide planning effort is now underway to set a direction for the next five years and beyond. This collaborative process will draw upon the collective wisdom of our campus community and I am certain that the effort will yield a plan that is at once forward-thinking and achievable, clear on how we view our place in the world and how we intend to shape it, and ever true to our Jesuit educational mission.

Our mission and values put students at the heart of everything we do and this is a year for deepening our commitment to caring for each student as a whole person. This begins with academics, the core of our being. With the arrival of our new Provost Shane P. Martin, a proven leader in advancing Jesuit higher education, we have new opportunities to strengthen and integrate our academic programs with other dimensions of the Seattle U experience so that our students are set up to succeed and thrive in all they do while on campus and when they go forth from here.

This is also a year for us to make important strides in becoming a more inclusive and welcoming campus community. It is a year to continue the difficult, even uncomfortable, work of identifying our blind spots and shortcomings. We must work to truly be a place where all students feel a sense of belonging and know they are valued, particularly those from marginalized groups, and a place where all faculty and staff likewise have voice and agency to shape the direction of our university.

This is and will be a very special year for our university—not only for what we envision, build and shape together, but just as much for how we do it. My prayer is that as we move forward in our important work, we do so in a spirit of collaboration, compassion and mutual respect—always, always, always putting the good of our students first. In this season of Thanksgiving, thank you for being part of this transformative work to support and advance our Jesuit educational mission.


Stephen V. Sundborg, S.J.